Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 11:37 UK

London falls behind in healthcare

Hospital cleaner
Part of the study examined hospitals' battles with infections

London is falling behind the rest of England when it comes to making improvements to its health services, a watchdog report has found.

The Healthcare Commission rated every NHS trust in England for both quality of services and value for money.

In London, the commission found overall improvements, but said they were not as significant as in other regions.

Two London NHS Trusts received the lowest possible rating of "weak". NHS London said this was "not acceptable".

Both trusts were rated as "weak" in both quality of services and use of resources.

They were the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust in Stanmore, north London, and the Brent Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT), also in north London.

The report found 48% of the 73 trusts in the capital have been rated as good or excellent, which is 7% less than last year.

We have some fantastic high-quality health services and some poor quality services, which are failing some of our most vulnerable people
Ruth Carnall
NHS London chief executive

It stated that in the third year of its annual health check report, it was the first time it had seen a gap between the performance of London's trusts and those in the rest of England.

In the first two years, a higher proportion of London trusts scored "excellent" and "good" for quality of services, compared to other trusts, the report said.

The areas where London's performance was not as good as the rest of the country included accident and emergency waiting times, inpatient waiting times, access to GPs and breast cancer screening.

Different challenges

The commission's Sam Banga said London's challenges were different because of the size and diversity of the city and the more transient nature of its population.

He said: "The health authorities recognise that more doctors are needed in some areas and services may need reconfiguration on behalf of patients. They are already acting on this."

But the report also said 12 trusts in greater London were rated "excellent" for quality of services.

And of the 73 London NHS trusts, 17 had improved the quality of their service over the past year while 32 had improved their value for money score. Eight trusts improved in both areas.

NHS London's chief executive Ruth Carnall said: "We have some fantastic high-quality health services and some poor quality services, which are failing some of our most vulnerable people.

"Our challenge is to bring care up to the standards of the very best for all Londoners."


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